Did he even know it himself?
When Barbara Carton met Jeffrey Haworth, it was love at first sight.
The two of them were both pre-med students who were tiring of the grind and thinking of switching careers. “The first time we went out for a beer, just as friends, we looked at each other and said, at the exact same time, ‘pharmaceuticals,’” said Carton.
“And then there was a beat, and we both laughed, and our laughs sounded similar,” said Haworth.
It was fate, clearly.
The two started dating then became exclusive, then moved in together, then got engaged, then got married. They both drove the same kind of car, worked at the same pharmaceutical company—that first meeting proved prophetic—and even belonged to the same gym.
“We were so in sync,” said Carton.
“Totally,” said Haworth. “I had been in love before, or thought I had, but when I met Barbara I realized everything else had been leading up to this.”
They sold their apartment and bought a house. “It was small,” said Haworth, “but our happiness was large.”
Then, around the time of the couple’s first anniversary, Carton started to notice that something was strange. When Haworth showered, the water made a hissing noise against his skin. When he used chopsticks at their local Chinese restaurant, the wood seemed to glow bright blue against his flesh. And sometimes at night, he would talk in his sleep, in a strange language Carton didn’t understand.
“I was worried about him more than about myself,” said Carton. “I was concerned he might be sick.”
“I got worried, too,” said Haworth.
A visit to the doctor was the next step. Before any tests were ordered, the doctor took a complete medical history from Haworth, only to discover that he did not know his real father. “I was raised by a single mother,” Haworth said.
Tests were conducted, which revealed a shocking truth: Haworth’s father had not been human. He had been a Gootan, a visitor from a distant planet. And that meant that Haworth was half-Gootan.
“I was shocked at first,” said Haworth. “But it explained so much. I mean, why did I sometimes dream of bright red oceans of lava? And why do cats always hate me?”
Carton was relieved, but also newly alarmed. “We were thinking of starting a family,” she said. “But now I’m really not sure. Any baby would be a quarter-Gootan, and I’m not prejudiced or anything like that, but I don’t know what it might involve.”
The stress of the discovery has fractured the once-idyllic marriage, with Haworth moving out temporarily. “I went home,” he said. “To my mom’s house. Not to Gootan. I just need to think about things.”
Social distancing has made the couple’s plight almost normal, except for the fact that Haworth is not entirely human. “I hope he comes back,” Carton said. “I miss him. In a tense situation like this one, he always knew what to say.”
“I still know what to say,” Haworth said. “I’m just too mad to say it. But maybe time will heal.”